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Author: Brooke Squires
The Ngarendare Forest sits on the Lewa boundary and spreads up towards the base of Mt Kenya. In fact, the elephant herds pass through the forest on their way up the mountain, via the good old Elephant tunnel.
The Ngarendare Forest is one of the few intact indigenous forests in Kenya and has an expanding population of cedar trees; hard to believe that the tree species one would most often associate with northern Europe is actually native to this part of Africa. The scent as you walk through the forest is like something out of a Norsca advertisement (for those of us old enough to remember those soap ads), and just when you can imagine yourself about to come across a Scandinavian log hut or some such, out pops a giraffe or a zebra! Just crazy!
The local community has worked extremely hard over the years to protect the forest and allow it to regenerate. Sustainable harvesting and non timber forest products such as honey have allowed the community to maintain the forest and earn an income. The forest is also full of African olive trees, palms and figs.
The best way to see Ngarendare forest is to get right up in it on the only treetop canopy walk in Kenya. I am not a very good birder (much preferring to spot horned beasts rather than winged ones in the wild), but the bird species in the canopy are just spectacular, so different from the species on Lewa’s open grasslands.
I also love walking along the elephant paths through the forest. We take an expert guide with us on this journey as you never know what you will meet under the canopy...rhino...elephant...buffalo.
After a nice walk, the next best thing to do is swim in one of the pristine water pools that originate from springs in the forest. This is usually followed by a picnic lunch including great local cheeses and then a good old afternoon nap by the side of the stream.
Barely anyone comes to the forest so it is a great way to see such an unusual part of Kenya and support a local community conservation enterprise at the same time. I am sure you will love it.
So come with me on this journey and support local conservation efforts to save this beautiful forest!
Brooke Squires has worked in zoos, national parks and conservation areas around the world. These days, she divides her time between her beloved rhinos at Werribee Open Range Zoo, Victoria, where she is a rhino keeper, and the International Conservation Partnerships for Zoos Victoria.
Ph: +61 (0) 423 393 836
Author: Amber Partington
For years I had sat behind a computer organising, emailing and fundraising to help save Orangutans for the Australian Orangutan Project. My journey with them had started long before I had even seen one in the flesh. So my first encounter was, of course, in the orang-utan tourist capital, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. I was the typical tourist, I had never even entered the jungles of Borneo before, all geared up & so excited I could hardly contain myself. Then all of a sudden there they were. I saw through the trees for the first time this little orange furry blob, a youngster of around 3-4 years of age. My heart was racing, they were just so gorgeous. “Time up” the ranger announces – “but it felt like we only just got here” I proclaimed! Deep down I hated being that tourist, standing there on a manmade platform watching orangutan’s act in such a way a truly wild orang-utan would not behave. But finally I could say I had seen one.
So I went home, more dedicated than ever to help save these little guys. Back to the computer, countless emails and fundraising. Then midway through 2010 after starting at Melbourne Zoo as a Primate Keeper, an inspirational young lady, named Jessica McKelson asked me, “Would you like to be one of my Tour Guides leading tours in North Sumatra?” What an opportunity I thought! Jess could sense my excitement and advised, “Why don’t you head over and see if you like it and then let me know!” I already knew the answer would be yes!
As I trundled through the jungles of North Sumatra on my first tour, I felt like I had grown up in this environment my whole life. The sounds, the sights and smells – I took it all in and loved every minute of it! After 2 weeks of witnessing outstanding beauty in the jungle, tubing down rivers, swimming under waterfalls, witnessing wild animals and getting to know the local people, I was sad to leave. I also had some sad lows, when walking through Palm Oil plantations and witnessing the extent of the devastation. The people and places had changed me in ways I could not imagine. It made me appreciate life in a way which nothing had done so before.
So why is it that I am a part of the Raw team? And why does it inspire me? The answer is simple. I want to preserve the landscape of Northern Sumatra more than anything in the world. Sumatra has seen around 90% of its original forest lost which I think is a travesty for the people, the animals and the world.
By taking people into these environments I am able to teach them and hopefully inspire them to help save a small part of the world’s forests because whether we like to think of it or not – we need trees. Soon it will be, that we will lose enigmatic species like orangutans, elephants and tigers in the wild. If I can help this from happening and I believe Raw is helping – I think this will be a very rewarding feeling. ☺
Amber is a Raw Tour Leader and Victorian State Representative for the Australian Orangutan Project (AOP)
Spring has returned to Melbourne!
Birds and their babies chirp outside my bedroom window each morning (acting as my natural alarm clock), nesting magpies swoop my work colleagues as they cycle past parklands, and broods of ducklings waddle behind their mum down to the river where I take my dogs for a walk every evening.
More importantly, Spring means Christmas is just around the corner – time to begin planning your next adventure with Raw Wildlife Encounters!
I attempt to plot where I am going next and what I want to do, the list stretches ever longer, I grow indecisive - seems a common problem amongst most people I talk to - budget plays a factor, time constraints, safety concerns, and worries about who is going to look after pets when I go away…
These personal planning dilemmas inspired Raw to develop new ways to alleviate your travel worries. We want to provide you with easy solutions. So not only do we still offer amazing, culturally rich, and diverse travel programs, we can now facilitate any of your travel requirements throughout the entire world.
We offer flights, travel insurance, accommodation and travel packages tailored to your needs. Pet sitting services are also available.
Flights can be arranged by Sjouke Vaartjes, our travel flight representative. Sjouke is the latest member to join the Raw team and we are delighted to have her on board!
Your time is important. Let us take the pressure off your next holiday by organising it all for you.
We’ll help you keep that clear conscience! Rest assured when your booking is made by our ethically-responsible Eco Travel Agency that money is directed back to key travel locations for you to enjoy for years to come.
So book your next holiday with us! Contact Sjouke via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am always thrilled to received feedback from Raw Supporters on ANY topics we write about. Our latest milestone was achieved this month by launching the new Raw website – www.rawildlife.com.au. This is feedback I received about the website from one of our Raw Supporters, Liz:
‘Just spent a very pleasant hour or so looking through your new website. Now I want to go on a tour! The conservation emphasis does come through. You already support so many projects which is amazing, seeing your company is still quite young. I really love that you are doing so much to educate and help the local people, which in turn helps the forests and wildlife. The site is very easy to navigate and it is written in a friendly tone.’
Thank-you, Liz. Happy reading, everyone.
I look forward to discussing your Christmas holiday plans and seeing you on our next Raw adventure.
Director, Raw Wildlife Encounters
Do your travel stories fail to receive the attention they deserve from friends, family and work colleagues? Do you get caught up in the moment, waxing lyrical about your trip, and forget your audience may not understand because they haven’t visited the same location or witnessed the same travel experience? Does your monologue get interrupted midway by questions that disrupt the passion of your account?
To feed your need to tell everyone everything, Raw has developed this Blog for you to share your story with fellow Raw supporters. We love to hear your latest travel interactions – all the perks, experiences, emotion, drama and thoughts you had during your time away.
Visit - http://www.rawildlife.com.au/_blog/Blog and post your travel story. It’s a great way to get it off your chest and share it with those who fully appreciate the life-changing experience that is a Raw Wildlife Encounter.
Tempted by all those amazing activities on offer at your next Raw holiday destination? Are budget constraints proving a downer on planning your desired itinerary? What if there was a way to alleviate the $tress – maybe with a little help from your friends? Introducing Raw Travel Vouchers, the easy way to purchase merchandise, make travel payments, or secure a spot on that long-desired destination.
Why not contribute to the present your family and friends really want. Wouldn’t one be a welcome surprise for those looking to escape over Christmas? Add it to your Wishlist now!
Vouchers can be purchased at http://www.rawildlife.com.au/catalog-1.
Planning a Wedding? How about opening a Raw Wedding Travel Registry? Contact email@example.com if you would like more information on this product.
Pets & Holidays! What to do?
Don’t fret. We have everything covered for your Raw getaway…
Raw Wildlife Encounters has partnered with Pro Instinct to provide you with pet sitting, walking and minding services.
Ease your mind and enjoy your holiday knowing your loved ones are being cared for at home by the best in the industry.
‘At Pro Instinct, our expertise is in utilising state -of -the -art training and behavioural management techniques to improve the quality of life and welfare of animals, integrate them into the lives of the individuals and families with which they reside.’
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to give your pet a holiday!
On the remote and magnificent island of Kadavu, Matava – Fiji’s Premier Eco Adventure Resort – boasts secluded splendor whilst also satisfying your spirit of adventure.
Bordered by the Great Astrolabe Reef, Matava is a small and intimate getaway. Traditional thatched Fijian bures set in the rainforest, nestled amidst lush tropical surroundings, can accommodate up to 22 guests and offer privacy, comfort and superb ocean views.
Matava Fiji offers the perfect environment to scuba dive, snorkel, surf, fish, and kayak, with opportunity to trek, visit villages, bird watch or simply relax and unwind.
Matava is a genuine eco-hideaway designed to cause minimal impact to the environment and promote conservation awareness to the local community and visitors.
Raw Wildlife Encounters can assist you in booking your Fijian holiday at Matava.
For further information on a package to Matava, including flights and travel insurance contact: Sjouke Vaartjes email@example.com
As part of our continuing support for the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP), Raw aims to raise $80,000 for the programme’s appeal to purchase land and establish permanent accommodation for orangutans deemed ineligible for release back to the wild. The vision includes incorporation of a Visitor Centre to spread the conservation message. Life stories of the resident orangutans will serve as concrete examples of issues facing the wild population including habitat loss, orangutan/human conflict, disease, and the pet trade.
In June 2011, Raw introduced you to the work of SOCP in Sumatra. At the orangutan quarantine facility near Medan, North Sumatra, Director Ian Singleton and his dedicated team focus on the confiscation of illegal pet orangutans, quarantine, and reintroduction to the wild. To date, 218 orangutans have been received at the quarantine centre, 141 have been transferred to Jambi for reintroduction, 6 to the new Jantho Reintroduction Center (Aceh), and more than 130 have been released back into the wild.
While the vast majority of orangutans received at SOCP quarantine centre are fit and healthy and can be transferred to reintroduction centres, on occasion SOCP receive orangutans with serious medical concerns or disabilities (including injuries) that prevent them from being returned to the wild.
In July 2011, Director of Raw Wildlife Encounters, Jess McKelson, paid a special visit to the quarantine centre and vowed to offer financial support to the facility. Observing the long-term residents proved a memorable experience during her meeting with Ian Singleton. Forty year old female Gober lost her sight to cataracts and was rescued in 2008 by SOCP after blindness forced her to raid crops, risking almost certain death from villagers. Male Leuser was shot by villagers with an air rifle and found near death with 62 air rifle wounds including three pellets lodged in his eyes. The pair were introduced and a decision to temporarily lift the breeding ban at the centre resulted in the birth of healthy twins to Gober in January 2011. Despite her handicap, Gober has proved an excellent mother.
In 2007, welcome funding from the Australian Orangutan Project enabled the construction of four purpose-built cages to improve the lives of long-term orangutans. However, orangutans can live a relatively long time (up to 50+ years in the wild) so a more permanent housing solution is required to maximise the welfare these residents. Currently, in addition to Gober and Leuser there are three orangutans that fall into this category. Tila is an eleven year old female, confiscated in 2003, and found to be infected with human Hepatitis B virus. Sadly, Tila must be housed alone due to her contagious condition. Dek Nong is a young female who suffers mystery bouts of a creeping paralysis in her arms and legs. Seumayan is a nine year old male who has lost the use of his left arm below the shoulder. Tests have been inconclusive as to the cause.
SOCP can now direct their efforts to finding suitable land while Raw directs its efforts to raising the funds to get the venture started.